The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan Schools:
Punishing Students for Poverty

Sep 17, 2018

For the fourth year in a row, less than half of Michigan students in grades 3-8 passed the English language arts portion of the M-STEP, the state-wide assessment of “student educational progress.”

This result was reported as showing that the schools are failing the students. A series of programs have been passed in recent years that are supposed to be addressing this – including a requirement that any 3rd-grader who does not pass this test be held back a grade. So, punish the student for the supposed failure of the school! Studies have shown that holding a student back does more harm than good. But this is supposed to show that Michigan is “getting tough” about the schools.

Matinga Regatz, Michigan’s Teacher of the Year in 2011, put it very well in a recent interview. She noted that these tests have various problems and they do not accurately measure student achievement or progress. What they DO measure very accurately is poverty – the economic level of the students, and the lack of resources in the schools where the students score lowest.

In fact, tests like these have, in the past, been used to attack the schools and suck even more resources from them, even shut them down. They drain resources from the most needy schools, and then blame the schools and the teachers for failing the students. NONE of the programs in Michigan begin to address the one thing that could actually make a difference: flood the lowest performing schools with the money and resources they’ve been starved of!